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Former UNA head coach to lead Tharptown boys basketball team

Former University of North Alabama head basketball coach Bobby Champagne has been hired to lead the Tharptown boys basketball program.

Champagne spent 15 years as the Lions’ head men’s basketball coach and compiled a 245-195 record. He led UNA to the Division II Elite 8 in 2008.

Champagne’s college roots run deep, with assistant coaching stops at the University of Texas-El Paso, Georgia Southern, the University of Louisiana-Layfette, the University of Oklahoma and Washington State University.

“I am thankful to Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Moss for giving me the opportunity to coach,” said Champagne. “I look forward to meeting the guys and getting to work.”

Champagne, who didn’t want to uproot his family from the Shoals area, has been selling insurance and working with basketball programs at Brooks High School and Florence High School since leaving UNA.

“When you have a chance to bring in a coach of the caliber of Bobby Champagne’s experience and success, we were very interested in doing that,” said Franklin County Superintendent of Education Greg Hamilton. “He will be a tremendous asset to the students and athletes at Tharptown High School.”

Tharptown Principal Bart Moss echoed Hamilton’s sentiment.

“Coach Champagne has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can do nothing but benefit our students. He is going to be a great person for all of our students to learn from but especially our basketball team,” Moss said.

Tharptown also hired Thomas Horton to lead the school’s baseball program. Horton is an English teacher at Tharptown High School, and he has been helping coach football and girls basketball.

“Coach Horton is a great person, and the kids really respect him,” said Moss. “He was very eager to take on this job when it opened. He is very enthusiastic, and the players will feed off that.”

Both the basketball and baseball jobs at Tharptown were vacated when longtime coach Shannon Benford resigned in April.